I’ve just started trying to learn to translate Japanese. As in just started, I mean about a month ago I got a hold of some Japanese text I decided to translate. I spent around a week and a half doing it using on-line references, then decided to order some dictionaries and stopped my attempt at translating until they arrived.
I’ve received two dictionaries so far:
NTC New Japanese-English Character Dictionary edited by Jack Halpern ISBN 0844284343
The Learner’s Kanji Dictionary by Mark Spahn & Wolfgang Hadamitzky ISBN 080483556X (This just arrived yesterday and I’ve been buried in it since then.)
I have one more on order: Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary – I’m hoping this will help me translate words formed strictly by hiragana and/or katakana. This is an older edition from the 1940’s. (The newest edition cost 1000% - yes, that’s a thousand percent - more than this edition, so I went with the 1940’s dictionary.)
What I’m getting stuck on – (Okay, since I’ve only been doing this for two or three weeks, there’s a lot I’m getting stuck on!) – but right now what I need are some reference materials on the following:
1 Japanese grammar i.e. what kana are used to convert kanji to different forms of speech, sentence structure, how you can tell when one word ends and another begins (oh boy, do I need help with that), etc.
2 As I’m hoping the Kenkyusha’s will cover me for words without kanji, I’m having trouble translating okurigana. I can identify the kanji and romanize the kana using the Hepburn system, but when I go to look them up, I cannot find them in the dictionaries I have.
I’ve run across a couple of items and was looking for some experienced opinions on them.
Kanji & Kana: A Handbook of the Japanese Writing System (Tuttle Language Library) by Mark Spahn & Wolfgang Hadamitzky ISBN 0804820775
Kanji and Kana: A Handbook and Dictionary of the Japanese Writing System by Mark Spahn & Wolfgang Hadamitzky ISBN 0804813736
Opinions on which would be better in assisting me in my translating? Or are the dictionaries I already have better?
Any suggestions of other reference books that also might help? (Please don’t recommend something that costs $150. So far I’ve managed to keep the purchase price of the books to under $20 including shipping and handling. I’m not looking to go broke over this.)
I should also say I’m not looking to become an expert. The text I’m working on should be simple and basic. Every one of the kanji in the text I’m trying to translate was one of the 2000 basic kanji.
Oh, and in case it would be helpful to know, the websites I have been using most are:
Now excuse me while I go nurse the headache I’ve given myself and curse my mother, yet again, for not teaching me Japanese in the first place.